The Phoenix “Heat Bubble” In Action


This is an example of the clouds kept at bay by the Phoenix heatIn earlier articles, I delved into why Arizona is so hot and the mixed up weather in Phoenix. The weather in Arizona, particularly in Phoenix, is very unique and very unnatural for humans.

As I was driving this morning, I observed a straight line of clouds on the east side of the valley. As I wrote in a previous article, a ring of clouds is sometimes seen surrounding the Phoenix valley. A combination of the mountains and the warmer air keeps the clouds at bay, and I snapped a couple of photographs to represent what “the ring” looks like.

Although there wasn’t a ring around the entire valley this morning, there is a distinct line of clouds over the east valley. These clouds will never cross the mountains to give us much needed shade. Shade is at a premium in Arizona, even on cooler days like today. Keep in mind, the word “cooler” is relative and unique to Phoenix. The forecast calls for the temperature to be in the upper-80’s today, which is typically summer weather in other parts of the country.

Another example of the heat bubble of Phoenix in action keeping the clouds away

I’m not a meteorologist, and I don’t play one on TV either. Based upon my reading, I attribute the strange cloud formation to a combination of the Urban Heat Island (UHI – aka “Heat Bubble”) effect and the fact Phoenix is surrounded by mountains. To learn more about the UHI effect in Phoenix, read this interesting article (PDF) about how it jeopardizes sustainability of Phoenix.

This image shows how the clouds are kept away from Phoenix by its mountains and warmer air.

When I got home, I looked up the Phoenix weather map to see what the strange clouds look like from above. I was surprised to see the line of clouds almost perfectly trace along the geography of the surrounding mountains! Even on a “cool” day, the clouds cannot penetrate the rising warmer air and the mountains.

This weather phenomena really makes me dread the foreboding summer weather. The heat bubble surrounding us simply will not give us any relief. That’s why summertime is the best time to leave Arizona.

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2 thoughts on “The Phoenix “Heat Bubble” In Action

  1. kristasta says:

    I have never noticed this particular cloud formation! I will be on the lookout for them now… Also glad to see another post as I was becoming concerned you had actually figured out a way to escape!

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